107th Indian Science Congress: Main Focus on Rural Development; A Farmers Science Congress being held for the first time

The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the 107th session of Indian Science Congress at University of Agricultural Sciences, in Bengaluru on January 03, 2020. The Union Minister for Health & Family Welfare, Science & Technology and Earth Sciences, Dr. Harsh Vardhan and other dignitaries are also seen.

The 107th edition of Indian Science Congress, India’s largest annual gathering of scientific luminaries from countries across the world has started from January 3 to 7, 2020 at University of Agricultural Sciences (UASB), GKVK Campus, Bangalore, Karnataka focusing on ‘Science & Technology: Rural Development’. The Congress is a major focal point for scientists, researchers and academicians interested in various aspects of science discoveries and technologies.  The five-day long event aims to bring together science fraternity across the world to discuss scientific innovation and research.

The Nobel Laureates who are participating include German Physicist, Prof. Stefan Hell who is one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry in Göttingen, Germany. He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014 ‘for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy’ and Prof. Ada E. Yonath from Israel. She is a protein crystallographer who was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize for Chemistry.

There are 28 Plenary Sessions on areas ranging from Climate Smart Agriculture for Food Security, Crop Improvement Towards Food & Nutrition Security, Materials Science And Technology For Rural Development, Challenges and Opportunities In Cancer Drug Discovery, Artificial Intelligence And Medical Technology, Advances In Basic Medical And Clinical Interactions, Non-Communicable Diseases In Rural Population as well as Cancer Research – Therapeutic Applications. The areas also include Nano Materials for Energy, Environment and Health Care, Novel Solutions for Oil and Gas Industry Problems and so on in which senior scientists and officials will discuss on the status, challenges, opportunities and scope in these research areas.

Public Lectures

Four Public lectures by eminent personalities like Nobel laureate Prof. Stefan Hell, Dr. Subra Suresh among others, covering topics like Ultrasharp Fluorescence Microscopy, science across disciplines ranging from basic science to applications in the industry, acute problem of modern medicine, life style diseases to recent advances in cardiac sciences will be organized in the Science Congress.

Sectional Sessions: Fourteen Sectional Sessions covering different disciplines of science will be organised in the Science Congress.

Farmers Science Congress

With focus on Rural Development through Science and Technology, for the first time in the history of Indian Science Congress, a Farmers Science Congress is being held. It will cover themes ranging from farmers innovation on integrated agriculture and entrepreneurship for doubling farmers income, climate change, bio-diversity, conservation, ecosystem services & farmers empowerment to agrarian distress, rural bio-entrepreneurship, policy issues.

The event will have the presence of experts and scientists from Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) and University of Agricultural Sciences (UAS) along with farmers whose innovative approaches have led to significant contributions.

Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelan (Children’s Science Congress)

A two day event ‘Rashtriya Kishore Vaigyanik Sammelana’ will be held at UASB, GKVK as part of the 107th Indian Science Congress on 4th and 5th January 2020. The aim is to provide a unique opportunity for children to view selected projects and interact with the student delegates and children will also have the opportunity to listen, interact with eminent scientists and Nobel Laureates. Events like one minute video competition, Infosys Foundation – ISCA Travel Awards for School Children, visit to exhibitions, live science demonstrations and science magic show will be organized as a part of the Science Congress.

Women Science Congress

The women’s science congress aims to provide single platform for women working in different arena of science and technology to showcase their achievements and experiences. It will also prepare a vision document or a road map for women in science and technology and recommend policies to enhance the role and utilize the full potential of women in science and technology. In this session, women are invited to share ideas and experiences to motivate the younger women to actively participate in science to identify and find simpler solutions through Science and Technology.

Former VC’s Science Congress

The former VC’s Science Congress addresses the urgent need in Indian higher education institutions today is to establish quality internalisation pathways through quality culture in academic, administrative and financial spheres of institutional management. Several eminent Vice Chancellors like Prof. S.P. Thyagarajan, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Madas, Chennai and Prof N. Prabhudev, VC Bangalore University will be attending the event.

Vigyan Sancharak Sammelan – 2020 (Science Communicators Meet – 2020)

“Vigyan Sancharak Sammelan” is an initiative for Science communicators’ for professional growth. This programme will focus on the theme “Science & Technology: Rural Development “.  Science Communicators’ role is to facilitate public engagement with scientific issues. Science communication plays an integral part in one’s scientific career. Being able to effectively disseminate research findings within the community and to consider collective opinions in prioritizing research needs is an important attribute of scientific maturity. Thus, dissemination of scientific information and inculcation of scientific attitude among masses at large is the need of the hour.

With this broad goal, Science Communicators’ Meet will be held to bring together experts in the field of science communication with particular reference to rural development. It will provide an opportunity to academicians, science journalists, activists, filmmakers, scientists and other communicators from all over the world to meet, deliberate and exchange their views on how to develop science communication.

Mega Science Exhibition – PRIDE OF INDIA ISC EXPO

Pride of India (PIO) ISC Expo is a unique platform for organizations from government, private and public sector to showcase their achievements in the field of science and technology. The POI Expo brings together and displays hundreds of new ideas, innovations and products covering the entire canvas of scientific world. The five days will witness a large number of visitors from the corporate sector, scientific fraternity and academia, R&D institutes, defense, government, PSUs and so on.

The Science Congress was inaugurated by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at UASB, GKVK Campus. Delivering the inaugural address, the Prime Minister said, “The growth story of India depends on its achievements in the Science & Technology sector. There is a need to revolutionise the landscape of Indian Science Technology and Innovation.”

“My motto for the young scientists bourgeoning in this country has been – “Innovate, Patent, Produce and Prosper”. He said these four steps will lead India towards a faster development. “Innovation for the people and by the people is direction of our ‘New India”, he added.

He said, “New India needs technology and also a logical temperament, so that we can give a new direction to our social and economic sectors”. He said science and technology provides a level playing field in making opportunities accessible to all and that it also plays a unifying role in the society.

Prime Minister said, “Now the developments in information and communication technology are able to provide cheaper smart phones & cheaper data and that has made it accessible to everyone in the country, where as it was seen as a privilege of the few earlier. This made the common man now believe that he is not distantly separated from the Government. Now he can directly connect with the Government and make his voice heard”

Prime Minister exhorted the young scientists to work in the field of rural development where there are several opportunities for cheaper and better innovations.

Referring to the theme of 107th ISC – “Science and Technology: Rural Development”, the Prime Minister said that it is only due to Science & Technology, that Government Programmes have reached the needy. 

He highlighted that India now stands at 3rd position globally, in the number of Peer-reviewed Science and Engineering Publications. “I have been told that India has climbed to third position globally in the number of peer reviewed science and engineering publications. It is also growing at a rate of about 10% as compared to global average of 4%”, he said.

He also mentioned about Improvement in India’s ranking at Innovation Index to 52. He highlighted that Government programmes have created more incubators in the last 5 years than in previous 50 years.

Prime Minister said Technology is being harnessed at a large scale to achieve the objective of Good Governance. “Yesterday our Government was able to release to 6 crore beneficiaries the instalment under the PM-KISAN programme. This was possible only due the Aadhaar enabled technology”, he said. Similarly he said that it was technology which helped in building toilets and providing electricity to the poor. He said that owing to the technology of Geo Tagging and Data Science, many of the projects in rural and urban areas could be timely completed.

Prime Minister said, “We are continuing our efforts to ensure the ‘Ease of doing Science’ and effectively using information technology to reduce red tape”.

He emphasized that Digitalisation, E Commerce, Internet Banking and Mobile Banking services are assisting rural population significantly. He said Technology can be harnessed for several rural development initiatives, particularly in the area of cost effective Agriculture and Farm to Consumer supply chain network.

He urged everyone to find technological solutions for – stalk burning, maintenance of Ground water tables, prevention of communicable diseases, environment friendly transportation etc. He emphasized that Science and technology has a major role in contributing towards making India a $5 Trillion Economy.

The Prime Minister launched the Indian Scientific, Technology and Engineering facilities Map (I-STEM) Portal on this occasion.

The Union Minister for Science and Technology, Earth Sciences and Health and Family Welfare, Dr. Harsh Vardhan highlighted that as per a recent National Science Foundation (USA) Report, India has already climbed to the third spot in the number of science and engineering publications and that Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advance Scientific Research (JNCASR) in Bangalore has scored the 7th position in the quality of research by Nature Index.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan also emphasized that several schemes have been worked out for enhancing the quality of research, empowering young women students and scientists, technology development, creation of an end-to-end startup ecosystem, bringing the best of global science to India, linking of academia-research labs-industry-society, sharing of scientific resources and science communication.

He pointed out that our innovation ecosystem in the last five years has doubled from the previous fifty years and that the Scientific Social Responsibility Policy has been formulated to reach out to the widest-spectrum of stakeholders of S&T with knowledge, human resources and infrastructure.

Dr. Harsh Vardhan elaborated that missions have been initiated in the disruptive technologies such as Cyber-Physical Systems, deep-ocean exploration; quantum systems, energy storage and gene editing which are creating unprecedented opportunities for our young and dynamic scientists to work on securing the future. At the same time traditional knowledge systems in areas such as health and well-being, water conservation, environmental management and sources of local livelihood have been strengthened.

Earlier on the ISC eve, Swarna Jayanti Fellowships award was announced to 14 Scientists associated with projects containing innovative research idea and with potential of making impact on R&D in the respective disciplines. The scientists, selected for the award through a rigorous three-tier process, will be allowed to pursue unfettered research with freedom and flexibility. 

The Swarna Jayanti Fellowships scheme was instituted by Government of India to commemorate India’s fiftieth year of independence. Under this scheme, a selected number of young scientists, with proven track record, are provided special assistance and support to enable them to pursue basic research in frontier areas of science and technology.